For many of us who have been switching between different schools, even different cities for most of our life, it can be hard to visualise doing one thing for 20 years. Many undergraduates have not yet celebrated their 20th birthday. But for the past twenty years, the Cassini mission has been traveling through space with one goal: to study the world of Saturn.
It all started on October 15, 1997 when the Cassini-Huygens probe was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The next seven years were spent traveling through space and using the gravity from Venus, Earth, and Jupiter to propel the probe all the way to Saturn’s orbit.
Shortly after it arrived, the Huygens probe separated from Cassini and dropped though the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and became the first probe to land on a moon other than our own. From this probe, we have learned that Titan has rain, lakes, and oceans beneath a thick Nitrogen-rich atmosphere. It’s not liquid water, but liquid ethane and methane are similarly awesome finds.